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Playing for Time


List Price: $29.95
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Product Details

  • Actors: Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Alexander, Shirley Knight, Maud Adams, Marisa Berenson
  • Directors: Daniel Mann
  • Writers: Arthur Miller
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Olive Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2010
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003S5TOZG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,015 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Playing for Time" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Alexander, Maud Adams. An outstanding cast brings life to this Fania Fenelon autobiography about a Jewish cabaret singer and other Jewish prisoners whose lives were spared at Auschwitz in exchange for performing for their captors. This chilling portrayal won 4 Emmy Awards including Best Drama, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and one for Arthur Miller's television script. 1980/color/150 min/NR/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

The horrible part is that actually happened!
Joyce Shaw-Flagg
A Four-Star drama of life and death in the Nazi Concentration Camps captures what many books and journals simply fail to achieve.
Gail H. Nelson
As always, Vanessa Redgrave gives an outstanding performance.
Sparkle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 151 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
THIS IS A STUNNING MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE. IT COULD NOT BE MORE DIFFERENT THAN SCHINDLER'S LIST, AND I FOUND IT MUCH MORE INVOLVING AND CONFRONTING. VANESSA REDGRAVE IS ABSOLUTELY RIVETING IN THE ROLE OF FANIA FENELONG, WHO BECOMES PART OF A BIZARRE ORCHESTRA AT AUSCHWITZ, ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHER WOMEN. THIS ORCHESTRA IS OF COURSE AT THE MERCY OF THEIR CAPTORS, AND THEY ARE EXPECTED TO PLAY LIKE VIRTUOSOS (LUCKILY, MOST OF THEM ARE), DESPITING THE FACT THAT THAY ARE OFTEN HUNGRY AND SICK. THE WHOLE CAST IS AMAZING AND THERE ARE SEVERAL MOVING AND VERY HUMAN SCENES INVOLVING A FEW OF THE GERMAN CAPTOR'S, ESPECIALLY ONE WOMAN IN PARTICULAR. AS TIME GOES ON, DIVISIONS OCCUR BETWEEN THE (MOSTLY) JEWISH WOMEN MAKING UP THE ORCHESTRA, AND FANIA BECOMES EVERYONE'S MENTOR. (EVEN THOUGH SHE DOESN'T MEAN TO). THE WHOLE FILM IS DARKLY REALISTIC, COMPLETE WITH MOUTH-SORES, SHAVED HEADS, GRIMY FACES AND SUNKEN-LOOKING EYES. A HAUNTING, RIVETING YET (SOMEHOW) UPLIFTING FILM, IT IS STUNNINGLY SHOT, AND SEEMED SO REAL THAT I COULD ALMOST SMELL IT.
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79 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Joyce Shaw-Flagg on December 23, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Very haunting.Has always stayed in my mind after seeing it over 10 yrs. ago. The horrible part is that actually happened! Who,s to say similar events could not happen again? God help us! Everyone should see this incredible,stirring and factual film.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By E. Welsh on September 21, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
At the age of 16, I had the interesting experience of being an "extra" in this movie. My mother (now deceased) also was an extra, and it was a neat experience for us to share. I was a Pennsylvania farm girl, so this was exciting for me. I remember that during the filming it was VERY cold. We were in thin clothing for long periods of time and the running noses and uncomfortable looks that were written on the faces of the "prisoners" were not all pretend! Vanessa Redgrave was a class act. As a star, she had a trailer on site to go into to eat and be warm and cozy. Instead, she chose to eat box lunches with us in the unheated empty barracks buildings. I remember how when I met her, her eyes were red, she was truly prisoner camp thin, and her nose was running. But she greeted us, shook our hands and sat down to talk with us to eat the very same food that we did. I was impressed! Also, I discovered how long, intense and repetetive the days of a Hollywood star could be. It changed my opinion of the film industry forever. The prison camp scenes were filmed at Ft. Indiantown Gap in PA.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen A. Kosche on July 29, 2007
Format: VHS Tape
THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY PIECE THAT SHOULD NEVER BE LOST. PLEASE SOMEONE DIGITALLY REMASTER AND LET'S HAVE A DVD. THE SCRIPT AND THE PERFORMANCES ARE HAUNTING AND OFFER SO MUCH DEPTH TO A WORLD GONE MAD WITH THE PARADOX'S OF PERSECUTORS AND VICTIMS BECOMING CONFUSED AND DEADLY.
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Format: DVD
I have watched dozens of Holocaust-themed dramas over the years and am quite surprised that I've missed this superior quality production starring Vanessa Redgrave. Set during the Holocaust, Redgrave portrays sophisticated French cabaret singer Fania Fenelon who finds herself on a train to notorious Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her talent for singing and playing the piano attracts the attention of the Nazis and she gets selected to play with the female Jewish orchestra at the camp, headed by Alma Rose (played superbly by Jane Alexander). The story focuses not so much on the horrors at the camp, but on the emotional and psychological toll on the inmates at the camp. Fania tries to maintain her dignity as a human being, despite witnessing the depravity around her. A young woman who latches onto Fania goes through a horrible transformation - from a sweet young woman to a needy leech to a wanton woman who would do anything (sleep with Jews, Poles, and Nazis) in order to stay alive. Fania is horrified by this transformation, but tries her best to advise her young friend, to no avail.

Then there's Alma, the strict conductor who demands excellence from her starving musicians. Fania and Alma frequently clash over their approach to the Nazis - Fania feels they should not work so hard to please the Nazis, but Alma feels that pleasing the Nazis is essential in order to stay alive. I like how this drama explores not just the difficulties experienced by the female Jewish inmates, but also other themes. The animosity between the Poles and Jews is well-explored, and we come to understand that some of this animosity is due more to a lack of understanding of the other's culture. The Nazis, even the infamous Dr.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Cravens on March 1, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
When this movie was shown originally on TV, it was also shown in my high school English class. For many students, it was their first significant exposure to the horrors of the Nazi and the realities of a concentration camp. I remember we were all mesmerized and horrified. To this day, that first showing of "Playing for Time" haunts me, and seeing it since a few times, it has not lost any impact. I can still recite some of the lines. It's probably the first great made-for-TV film every made. That this film is not on DVD is shameful; once it is, I'll definitely be one of the buyers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Traveled Woman on March 28, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
This is a brilliant, award-winning film that has never been released on DVD and is rarely seen on TV anymore. I think it's a terrible shame that such a powerful work with amazing performances from the likes of Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Alexander (and virtually the entire cast) with a script written by the great Arthur Miller, is being allowed to languish in obscurity while lesser works are everywhere you look.

Like some of the other reviewers, I too saw this movie when it first aired in 1980. It has never left my consciousness these 28 years and some of the scenes are forever etched in my mind. Vanessa Redgrave is astonishing and quite simply does some of the best acting I've ever seen in this movie. But the entire cast, knowing the absolute gravity and importance of the story they are telling, all rise to the occasion. There is not a weak link among them. A riveting, haunting movie that needs to be shared with all generations (even the questionable person who got "bored" and started playing video games--doubtless the movie made this individual uncomfortable with its stark and unwavering reality).

Let's all find out who owns the rights to this movie now and PLEAD with them to release it on DVD!!
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